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Bonds slugs historic HR

After wait, he passes Ruth

SAN FRANCISCO -- No. 715 played out exactly the way Barry Bonds wanted -- he hit it at home, in front of the fans who love him.

It just took him a little longer than he hoped it would.

The San Francisco slugger moved past Babe Ruth on the career home run list with a mammoth shot yesterday, and now stands behind just one person.

Hank Aaron owns baseball's most revered record with 755 homers. And now the debate begins: Will Bonds stick around long enough to break it?

``If you keep playing long enough anything is possible," he said.

Bonds's latest milestone -- a mightier homer than No. 714 -- was a 445-foot, two-run shot to center off Byung Hyun Kim in the fourth inning during a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies. The homer came on the last day before the Giants begin a road trip to Florida and New York.

The ball glanced off a fan's hands about 15 rows up and then dropped onto an elevated platform beyond the fence. The souvenir sat there for a few minutes before rolling off the roof to 38-year-old San Francisco resident Andrew Morbitzer, who was waiting in line for beer and peanuts, and he was quickly ushered away by security.

Bonds circled the bases as shiny orange, gold, and black streamers fell from the upper deck.

``For the fans of San Francisco, it can't get any better than this -- even though I made them wait longer than I have in the past," the 41-year-old Bonds said, wearing a new 715 shirt and cap. ``Age ain't catching up with me."

Bonds connected at 2:14 p.m. PDT on a 90-mile-per-hour fastball with the count full, then immediately raised his arms and clapped his hands before beginning his historic trot.

Bonds embraced and kissed his 16-year-old son, bat boy Nikolai, as he crossed home plate, then was greeted by his teammates at the top of the dugout. He took one curtain call in which he tipped his hat and raised both arms and blew a kiss to the crowd.

Moments later, he came out again and waved.

``It's a wonderful honor," Bonds said. ``Hank Aaron is the home run king and I won't disrespect that ever . . . I have a lot of respect for Babe Ruth and what he's done."

Thousands of Bay Area fans listening on the Giants' flagship radio station, KNBR, missed the milestone homer because the microphone of play-by-play announcer Dave Flemming stopped working at the wrong time.

Flemming had begun the call at the beginning of Bonds's at-bat before his hand-held mike quit. ``Three-and-two. Finley runs. The payoff pitch, a swing and a drive to deep cen . . . " -- that's all Northern California listeners got when Bonds passed Ruth.

``We apologize to the listeners on the radio," Giants executive vice president Larry Baer said. ``We're as surprised as any of the fans listening. We have no idea what happened."

After the homer, the Giants unfurled two banners from the light towers on either side of the main scoreboard in center field: one of Bonds on the left side and the other of Hammerin' Hank's 755.

Bonds, who had walked on five pitches in the first inning, went five games between 714 and 715. He hit 714 May 20 at Oakland, a span of 17 at-bats and 25 plate appearances. Aaron had a four-game wait between 714 and 715.

Bonds singled to right in his next at-bat in a drive off the right-field facade that looked as if it might be headed out, too. He grounded to third to end the eighth and was replaced in the ninth.

This was Bonds's last chance during the six-game homestand before the Giants leave town for another week. He hadn't homered at home since May 2 against San Diego's Scott Linebrink.

Bonds has hit most of his other milestone home runs in San Francisco: 500, 600, and 700, along with 660 and 661 to tie and pass godfather Willie Mays. In 2001, Bonds hit the final three of his 73 homers at home to break Mark McGwire's season record of 70.

Giants manager Felipe Alou wrote Bonds into the lineup without checking with the seven-time NL MVP about playing in a day game following a night game, aware that Bonds wanted to make history at home.

``That's one of the reasons I'm playing him without even asking him," Alou said. ``We're going to be gone for a week. Today's the perfect day."

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